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(en) Hungary, Progress report “Beyond the Carpathians, the nightmare begins” by Barricade Collective*, March of 2005

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 29 Apr 2005 10:37:06 +0200 (CEST)


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The position of the Hungarian working class is rather
bad. Bad, because a big part of the Hungarian
wage-workers, a big part of the exploited working
class is fooled by democratic illusions; bad, because
it can be divided by nationalism and manipulated
conflicts of interests. Everybody defends his/her
sovereign territory separately, defends his/her
alienated and impoverished life, defends his/her
everyday existence with its illusions – in reality,
all that leads to the acceptance of the ideology of
the bourgeois political forces.
The Kadar system played a decisive role in the process
which has led to such a situation which we regard so
pessimistic. It’s paradoxical but true that more and
more people weep back Kadar’s capitalism, in which the
working class applied the “order of self-cenzorship”
to itself. Though its gray and boring totalitarianism,
in which the proletariat lost its “autonomous”
character and the Bolshevik party regarded it as a
3-years-old stupid child, the Kadar epoch had its
specific logic: “keep your trap shut, then we’ll give
you bread and butter, beer and medicine, party
membership card and relative certainty of existence,
cheap opportunity for education”. And they had given
also prohibitive zones which became taboos, and if
somebody crossed them, then he/she could easily find
himself/herself beaten up, in a mental hospital. They
provided physical and intellectual poverty, and a
“proletarian-killer” view on the future, which seemed
to be perfect and lulled the workers to sleep.
Kadarian capitalism tried to leach every really human
desire, and once more: it gave us everything which it
could give: poverty, opportunity of integration and
knout. Well, here is the “merriest barrack”.
After the workers uprising in Eastern Berlin there
were also workers protests in Hungary (this was before
Kadar). In Csepel (a southern workers’ suburb in
Budapest) there was a strike of 200-300 metal workers,
against the bad living conditions. There were also
“disturbances” in Ozd, Diosgyor and in several places
of the Great Plain. In the summer of 1954 there were
sporadic strikes again. After 1956, the real
working-class movement was cut down, turned into a
museum object and was expelled by the state to the
“blank” pages of the cenzored course books. The
resistance ranged as far as 1956, but after that was
defeated and became isolated. But, of course, it
didn’t cease to exist, although after 1956 the dumb
and defeated working class in Hungary not only went
back to the “death factories” and workshops, but it
subordinated itself to a “higher will”: the party
which could calmly sit in the power as far as the more
modern and active form of capitalism didn’t move to
this area. The conflicts of the fifties calmed down at
the end of the spring in 1957. The repressions and
executions had begun, a revolutionary of the Tuzolto
street group (one of the most important militant
groups in 1956), Istvan Angyal was executed by the
bolsheviks in 1958.
We enumerate some examples from the history of the
proletarian protest movements, which show that it
wasn’t possible to silence fully the voices of
discontent. It was an amnesty in 1960, this “limited
pardon” was given also to those who were imprisoned
for ’56, but not to all of them. In the jail of Vac
the political prisoners started a hunger strike, but
they stopped this activicity because of its
pointlessness. In 1966, the Vietnam Solidarity
Committee (which was organized under the aegis of
KISZ, the official bolshevik youth organisation) made
an illegal demonstration in May Day. At the end of the
year, the organisation was dissolved. In 1967, young
“new left” activists organized again demonstrations at
the embassies of the western countries. Maoists were
arrested in 1968: they were accused of organizing an
illegal party. In 1970 – at the Lenin-centenarium – in
a commemoration, the students, organizing the
programme, highlighted “improper citates” from Lenin’s
texts. In the 21st of March (the day of the
proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in
1919), 1971, “new left university students” wanted to
organize a demonstration with red cockades – because
of this, they had to abandon their studies. (An
excellent revolutionary film about 1919, entitled
“Agitators”, had been kept in a box by the authorities
for 30 years.) In 1971, at the 6th of October, several
young people gathered together in the Museum garden (a
place in Budapest where the revolution in 1848 had
begun) and talked about “those of living in misery in
basement flats”. Let’s stop for a minute here! It is
important to mention that during the Kadar regime, in
15th of March and 23rd of October there were always
larger or smaller demonstrations and protests “in the
name of liberty and independence”, in the depth of
whose there was hidden the desire of breaking out from
the helpless and impoverished worker’s position. These
demonstrations continued also after the change of
power, but now with the logos and slogans of
nationalism. In 1973, new leftist Lukacsists – who had
close relationships to the Praxis Circle in Yugoslavia
– were kicked out of their jobs and from the party,
because of their critical activity. The party
constantly fights against the leftist intellectuals,
it is enough to point out the rows around the study
“Piece rate” of Miklos Haraszti or the book of Konrad
and Szelenyi about the new ruling class. In the summer
of 1979 there was a raising of prices on foodstuffs.
The workers of the Csepel Iron and Steel Works put a
slice of bread-and-dripping (typical proletarian food
of those times) into the hand of the Lenin statue in
front of the factory. After the 1980 strike in Gdansk,
informations circulated in Budapest which said, that
“there was an action also in Csepel”. Another gossips
talked about a strike which lasted 3 days – “Kadar
also went there to establish order”. After a month,
the planned raising of prices (again on foodstuffs)
was cancelled, as a worker said: “they were afraid
that here also can happen something”. In October of
1980 there was a wage-strike in the china factory of
Hodmezovasarhely, the officials quickly distributed
1000-1000 forints among the workers. In the 3rd of
October 1980 on a building in Kispest, an oil-fired
stove exploded. The workers had already for long
grambled about the poor circumstances. From 190
workers 34 (!) went to strike. We pick out some jokes
from that period: “It is 40 kilogramms and eats grass.
What is it? – We will be it next year.” “The skeletons
meet in 1980. One asks the another: – Did you die
before or after the raising of prices? – Me? I am
still alive.” And for last: “They raised the prices of
bread, meet and milk. What will be raised next time?
Barricades!” In 1981, 52 working women in a poultry
processing factory in Szabolcs refused to do the
overtime which wasn’t reported earlier. In the spring
of this year meetings were held in several
universities in Hungary, and there was some talk of
establishing independent students’organizations – this
could also flirt with the memories of 1956 and 1968.
In the September in 1982, when the new tarifs of the
public transport came into effect, the workers of the
Taurus Tyre Factory in Szeged refused to work. The
biqwigs again intervened, they promised wage-increase.
>From the sixties, the class struggle, the fight agains
alienation is unambiguously present in the films and
literature, in the more and more bolder sociographies
and political writings. We could illustrate this with
a lot of films, poems, essays, but we citate only one
sentence from a writing of Zoltan Zsille from the
seventies, which speaks for itself: „The workers state
monopolized the right for itself, to impose the costs
of the maintenance and the development of the society
to the working class.” In a 1982 issue of the Beszelo
samizdat (illegal newspaper), a proletarian was asked
whether it is possible to have in Hungary such events
as in Poland.
He said: „If the economic situation is getting worse
in such a tempo then yes.” And it DID get worse (but
instead of the uprising, came the change of power and
the era of modernization of the capital), and this
process was accompanied by the law about
„work-shyness”: if somebody was caught in the act of
„idling” then he found himself behind bars. The ashes
of „comrade Trotsky” laughed as they saw the late
bolshevik realization of the „militarization of
labour”, about which he wrote so poetically. The real
class-fighter literature was harassed by the
authorities. It wasn’t possible to read the analyses
about 1956: you didn’t have access to them neither in
the bookshops nor in the libraries. But an underground
left opposition emerged, which – although it was
democratic – propagated the history of the Eastern
European proletarian struggles. This way a few people
could read the non-cenzored writings on these
struggles. Some examples of the writings which were
published within that framework: the book of Bill
Lomax about 1956, the „Kronstadt Diary” of Alexander
Berkman, the documents of the workers’ uprisings in
Poland and a publication about the proletarian action
in Berlin in 1953. In 1988 there was a demonstration
of 10000 people in 15th of March in which a speaker
cheered the Polish Solidarity and the „friendship of
the peoples around the Danube”.
Then the epoch of the power change began. The economy
of the USSR bankrupted, it became incompetitive and
decomposed. The circulation of the capital with
regulation by the state, lost the concurrency
struggle, and the classic but modernized capitalism
took its place. The working places were sold out from
beneath the feet of the workers. And the „state
capitalist bolshevik home of calmness and protection”
was succeeded by more violent economic compulsions.
The sharks of capital fired the elderly wage-workers
socialised in the „peace period” from their jobs,
modernized capitalism changed the structure of
production and made it faster, while the
institutionalized working class movement, having lost
its ground, mourned for its tyrans. In a huge series
of documentum films, the so-called Ozd-series – the
peak of which is the epoch of power-change –, the
camera recorded the next talk: „– How it has happened,
why it has happened? – asks the wife of Istvan Andras.
– There is no job, no idea, anything... In spite of
being 40 years old, we are here as the very picture of
misery. Our lives are stolen.” Instead of the
Punchinellos decorated with the red star, the mummies
of the party-state, the scene of our life is now
occupied by the next capitalist company. The chilling
cabaret of the „people’s democracies and the COMECON”
was changed by the performance of the more classical,
but more racional for the ruling class, model of
capitalist production. Between 1989 and 1992 the
empire of the Warshaw Pact collapsed, but this was not
the process of capitalist restauration, as the
Marxist-Leninist like to emphasize, but the
racionality of capital fought its way through. The
economy which was influenced by the bolshevik parties,
couldn’t bear the competition with the more advanced
western concurrents. It is enough to remind of the
violent maintenance of the loss-making companies and
branches, or of those services, which – because of
ideological reasons – remained free or very cheap. The
history of the running into debt is long, and it would
be interesting to write a whole chapter about it...
The answers of the disordered working class to the
modernized capitalism remained mainly reformist. The
deformed „traditions of the workers councils” revived.
These weren’t revolutionary at all, and didn’t oppose
capitalism absolutely. They accepted the frames of the
capitalist order, and at every occassion they pacted
with the bourgeoisie. In their cases we cannot speak
about real self-organization, because these miserable
exhibitions emerged under the supervision of the
authorities. The further commercionalisation of the
workers’ self-management by nationalism and by „tamed
self-consciousness” weakened the working class, which
had been already in a pathological state. But it
feeled that something is very wrong. The fall of its
living standard: the gradual decrease of the average
salary, the gigantical rise in prices – these
processes had to alert the proletariat and bring it
round from its state of suspended animation. The
dividing techniques of capitalism usually work, the
individualism of „me and me” can be successful for a
time, but the increasing poverty is felt even by the
atomized and separated working class, and although a
lot of the bigger factories and furnaces were closed,
although the unemployment is bigger and bigger, the
gettos of misery force the proletariat into a common
space of living: packed like sardines they live in
miserable flats, streets, alleys, squares. You see! In
the November of 1990 as an answer to the rising of the
benzin prices, the so-called „taxi drivers’ blockade”
broke out, which went beyond the narrow professional
line, and tousands of proletarians joined the wave of
protest. And then they stayed on the streets not
because of their dissatisfaction with the benzin
prices, but because of their common life, the
hopelessness and misery of their exploitated
proletarian life, their alienated and destroyed
everyday life. The euphory of the power-change and the
mistical promise of the „new and better life” were
already smashed by the necrophylic reality of capital.
The proletarian who wanted to protest and tramp
enjoyed the blockade which reached the whole country:
there are no red lamps, no spiteful car-beasts, no
mass misery and controller on the public transport, no
being late from the work-place – instead of this,
there is the solidarity of the „people of the
streets”: decided workers and working women talking,
discussing, small and large, with glasses and with
beard, the army of those who cook and bring food, the
remained conscious glances of the housing estates,
from the suburbs and from the hearth of the city,
merry and want to live – just like a genre-painting
from 1956... The street belongs to us, but not
entirely... The protest hadn’t become general and
didn’t become a revolutionary uprising. We can
remember that the minister for home affairs didn’t
know what to do, and trembling in the window of the
parliament, he considered about using force against
the protesters. Negotiations started for the
„coordination of interests”, and with this also the
retreat of the working class, which – because of the
lack of organisation and further development of
consciousness – returned to the home of
racks-workbenches... Paralizing the roads, the protest
movement gave only the keynote, but didn’t go further,
and the suffocated wave of protest started to retreat.
Left-wing and right-wing goverments come and go, the
amplifying nationalism brought about fascism and the
bourgeoisie are rejoicing over the corpse of the
proletariat. No, it is not 1933, or 1921, Russia when
they thought we had been beaten and we capitulated. In
the first part of our report we made a draft about the
attributes of the Kadar regime which are still in
effect. The demonstrations and the strikes still
exist, but they are accompanied by the capitalist
„solidarity” (integration) of the left- and right-wing
of the parliament. The real manifestation of the
proletarian discontent are weak and are developing in
accordance with the interests of the capitalists. The
„civil movement” is growing stronger and stronger but
they are lobbying to the left- or right-wing forces.
One can see the actualities every day: the
wage-workers in the hospitals want to go on strike,
the drivers of the BKV (Budapest Transport Company)
have just got their wages raised before what they were
threatening with strike. The bourgeois are pointing to
each other and talking bullshit about corruption,
golden handshakes, the merging of the power spheres
and the maffia … The demonstrations of the working
class are organised under the aegis of the trade
unions, using mainly democratic and nationalist
paroles, about the security of the existence, for the
worn-out picture of the future … and the idle
bourgeois are just laughing in themselves.

But let us cite some of the examples of the labour
demonstrations of nowadays. In the first day of July,
1994 the Cyclon-Berstal factory in Berettyóújfalus was
occupied by the workers of the plant, but the
experiment of the self-management has failed, because
it has gone for the democracy of the capital. There
were also demonstrations in the Vasas mines near Pécs
before that, and in Biharkeresztes, the workers of the
Steel Production Ltd. wanted to occupy the factory in
order to hinder the privatization – but finally they
did not performed it. Also in August, 1994 the proles
living under the minimal living standards in Miskolc
held a peaceful demostration. In May, 1994 the workers
of the Berva factory in Eger held a demonstration in
Budapest. In 1995 there were strikes at the
electricity companies in Tiszalök and Paks. Also in
this year 60 000 public health workers demonstrated at
the Parliament, in the 15th of November 70 thousand
people marched on the street against the education
laws, in 15th of December it was followed by the
demonstration of the educators in terms of tolerance.
In the autumn of 1996 the workers of the car parts
company ’Hammerstein’ wanted to establish a trade
union, but the bosses have nosed it out and fired the
initiators. Also in 1996 the youth organisations
organised a demonstration against the school fees, but
soon the truth unveils and the negotiation with the
power turns out clearly. In 1997 the meat industry
workers in Szekszárd held a demonstration. In the same
year in Tolnanémedi a blocade was formed against the
decreasing of the number of hospital beds, but the the
rage calms down very soon. In the beginning of 1998
protesting demonstrations are held under the influence
of the trade unions (public health, post office,
energy industry etc.) In the beginning of April, 1998,
Salgótarján the proles waiting for their grants
attacked the post office which had refused to pay them
– we have no information about other events.

The farmers’ demonstration has just ended, and the
tractors of the bourgeoisie of the countryside
decorated with flattering tricolors are hitting the
road again. These vehicles are mainly the monsters of
the ruling class forced on the flaster. But still …
generally in the hungarian proletarian reports there
is little information about the life of the working
class of the province. Naturally, the transition here
was also accomplished, just like in the cities, but
the poverty and the sad hungarian reality remained.
The wage-workers of the Hungarian villages lost their
foothold as the state coops were abolished, because it
had turned out that the collectivised agriculture
doesn't meet the requirements of the new era.
According to an agrarian study, there is not enough
capital for the reschedulement, the structure is
wrong, the technical and technological system is
obsolete. The redistribution of the private property
has begun again, the nationalist political chess games
has reinforced, and due to the fresh laws about
compensation and the privatizations, the well-known
signs saying: ’Private property! Crossing is
forbidden!’ have appeared on the fields and the
forests again. In the Kadar era when the lords were
organizing big hunts in the forests and closed big
forest areas by special squads – this hobby has been
continued also in the new era, accompanied by the
habit of putting signs like that. The temporary
powerful of the bourgeoisie has decreased the
agricultural grants, the export-import grant system
has been transformed, and the ruling class, in spite
of its nationalism, in many cases, preferred the
„external product” to the „home product”. The capital
always goes where its interest leads it and the
hungarian Fascism still could not understand this
clear logic – to its self-defence the „network of
Hungarian products” was established. This „great” and
„exciting” race theory of theirs has been extended to
almost everything, that’s how that the phenomena of
the Hungarian forest, Hungarian wood, Hungarian milk
was created – and this mythology has produced
something useful for us, too, because in fact, the
authentic Hungarian jerk, the self-conscious Trianon
hick has appeared – a charmingly stupid and silly
mastodon, an artificially produced operette-archetype,
an authentic characteristic of the era.

In 1988 there were 1335 co-operative farms in Hungary.
In spite of the transition, their number have
increased, but this fact is deceptive: in 1988 they
employed 1088 tousand people (most of which were
proletarians), a big part of whose lost their jobs
until the middle of 1993. The unemployment grew to
huge dimensions. The old-new bourgeoisie started to
buy up the lands, and the less purchasable land
remained, the more their value became. According to a
reliable source, the value of the co-operative wealth
was 260 billion forints, which was 15 percent of the
value of the national-bourgeois property. In 1993 the
obligation to employment ceased to exist, and suddenly
300 000 people remained without jobs. The household
plot became forbidden (the people try to evade the
law). In fact, apart from the spectacle of the „rich
Hungarian soil”, for the agricultural workers remained
only the eternal proletarian lease – misery. The
dinasties of small and large farmers – which we can
know from the works of the „peasant writers”, who
wrote about the Hungarian countryside during the
fascist period – returned, and the army of
wage-workers, begging for work in order to exist, from
the slave of the state became the slave of the
„gentry-bourgeois”. In this situation, those
individual producers who work without employing alien
labour, are exceptions to some extent. They also
demonstrate together with the farmers but for
different reasons: they would like to avoid
starvation, misery and coffin. The situation gradually
becomes worse and worse. The are informations about a
one-legged beggar who had also his second leg cut,
believing that this way the people become more
charitable. Is this the absurdity of capitalist world?
– No, this is the reality of capitalism. The positions
of the landowner-bourgeoisie also get worse, and after
the entry of Hungary into the EU they will drop behind
in the concurrency struggle, and they protest against
the loosing of their footing. That’s why the tractors
were rumbling on the streets of Budapest. The farmers’
demonstrations take place regularly, there was hardly
a spring in the past few years, when they could calmly
go hunting. The failed „Small Farmers’ Party”
dissolved into the various far right parties, the
„peasant king” József Torgyán (the former leader of
this party) “sacrificed his political career” and now
he is a lawyer again, leaving the ruling class of the
countryside without chief. The demonstrations of the
last year were continued this year in February, the
executioners of the working class of villages gasp for
breath, they started to feel fear from becoming
proletarianized, so they jumped – or let their
wage-workers jump – to the tractors.
The army of the millionaire farmers (owing more than
30-35 hectares of land) blames the left-wing
government for its position, for the fall of its
living standard, for the narrowing of its markets. Of
course, they must call the whole of their class to
account for all this (this is a typical case of big
fish – small fish), but how could they do that? And
even if they would do so – we have nothing to do with
this. We are not disturbed by the fact that the hyenas
of capital gobble up each other. But first of all we
have to pay the prices of bread, of meat and of milk,
and we, the proletarians are obliged to pay for the
inner quarrels of the bourgeoisie. So the working
class must wake up and not demand, but destroy the
empire of capital. In the concurrency struggle of the
accumulation and distribution of capital, once more
the living space of the working class becomes smaller
and smaller. The class of the paupers, the landless
agricultural proletariat thinks to be tied to its
„masters”, and expects help from them. But it’s time
to come round for our class: we can expect from the
capitalists and their system only humiliation, frozen
potato and vegetables, plonk and bad tobacco, raising
of prices and rape of proletarian women, high taxes,
exorbitant electricity bills, ruined human relations,
wasted life, alcoholism, suicide, unemployment,
homelessness, alienation and another beautiful
life-elixires...
We have already referred to the „peasant writers”: in
the realism of their descriptions we can meet also our
present reality. The right-wing oppositional parties
in the parliament and their fascist squads out of it
egg the farmers against the government. The farmers
are their puppets, and the propaganda slogans of the
next year’s elections already loom ahead. The
left-wing government stole what it could steal, and
„forgot” to share the juicy titbit with the
opposition. Many people think that „the farmers are
the victims of the agrarian politics of the EU”. This
is not true, they are the victims of the capitalist
system – they lose the concurrency struggle and grow
poor, they are the beggars of tomorrow. But once more:
we don’t have anything to do with the problems of any
part of the bourgeoisie. A recent analysis says:
„Their production is more expensive, because they are
necessarily short in capital, in buildings, in
equipment, in expertise. Their characteristics are the
big demand on capital, high manufacturing cost, low
efficiency, and they aren’t capable to produce high
quality unified commodities in big extent. They
swallow up the money of the taxpayers just like a
bottomless barrel.” That’s why they demand the
EU-subsidies, which is distributed now by the
left-wing government. They will receive (or, at least,
they seem to receive) 74 billion forints from the
EU-source and 92 billions from the governmental
budget. It would be urgent for them, but the
government ran into debt and pays gradually – such way
it fills in the gap which occured after their
stealings...
In our writing we usually called the capitalism of
Kadar „state capitalism”. In the reality, this is not
a right concept, since in the Formula 1 of capitalism
the workshops are above the state power, and the state
can only try to sit on them and rule the movement of
capital. This was the main reason for the collapse of
the bolshevik area. The „domino principle” works: if
the economy is not prosperous, we will be the victims.
In spite of this, we are not interested – as the
social democrats like to tell – in the establishment
of the „welfare system”. But how did the old communist
say: The proletarians have nothing to lose but their
chains!

Barricade Collective,
March of 2005
=====================
* [Ed. Note: Barricade is an anarchist collective
http://www.anarcom.lapja.hu/



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